MUUG Monthly Meetings for 2000-01

Please note our meeting location: IBM Canada's offices in the TD Centre, at the corner of Portage and Main. We gather in the lobby on the main floor - please try to be there by about 7:15 PM. Steve Moffat will then take us up to the meeting room just before the meeting starts at 7:30. Don't be late, or you may not get in.

Parking is available either in the parkade behind the TD building, off Albert Street, or in the ground level lot just north of the TD building. Entrance to the lot is from Albert Street, behind the parkade. Either way, parking is a $1.25 flat rate for the evening. You purchase your ticket from a dispenser, so make sure you've got exact change - a loonie and a quarter, or 5 quarters.

September 12, 2000: CDS Technologies - Wireless Networks

This month, Dolores Pirrie, Information Technology Specialist with CDS Technologies, gave a presention on the company and the capabilities it has. CDS Technologies specializes in wireless network connectivity. What that means for the public and private sector, is that there is no longer a need to cable offices! For example, if a company is highly mobile, they would normally have to cable an office every time they move. This can become extremely costly. With CDS, a company could go wireless and if they move they would simply take the equipment with them and set up in the new surroundings! It really is that simple. The other facet of this business is the building to building connectivity. They are capable of connecting two or more sites together, wirelessly, for distances up to 25 km apart! All of this is achieved at speeds of 11Mbps per second.

October 10, 2000: ACeDB

ACeDB is a freely-distributed object-oriented database package that was developed for genome projects, but is a very general purpose system. It is available for most computer systems (Unix, Mac, NT, etc.), and binaries for ACeDB are available for most systems. Brian Fristensky, from the Department of Plant Science at The University of Manitoba, has used ACeDB in his lab for several years, and in his recent Bioinformatics course. This month, he described and demonstrated this database for us.

November 14, 2000: Vulnerability Scanning

Do you want to know what the `Bad Guys' can find out about your machine? There is no better way to find out what they can see than to use the same tools they use. This month, MUUG member Shawn Wallbridge covered the basics of Vulnerability Scanning using Hping, Nmap, Whisker, Nessus, Firewalker, and the Hacking Exposed Tools. With the proliferation of High-Speed, always-on Internet connections, security is becoming more of a concern for the average home user.

Shawn recommends the following books on the subject: Building Linux and OpenBSD Firewalls (John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 0471353663), Maximum Linux Security (Sams; ISBN: 0672316706), Linux Firewalls (New Riders Publishing; ISBN: 0735709009), Hacking Exposed (McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing; ISBN: 0072127481), and Hacking Linux Exposed (McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing; ISBN: 0072127732). Shawn also recommends the following magazines: Maximum Linux, 2600, Internet Security Advisor, and SysAdmin.

December 12, 2000: Xmas Fun

This month, Kevin McGregor demonstrated some of the fun things (i.e. games and other toys) available for Linux. Kevin discussed the gaming market for Linux and where it might be going, and why it is important to the future of Linux. A good place to start looking is the Linux Games web site. Another good one is Loki Entertainment Software, which ports popular Windows games to Linux, such as Civilization: Call to Power, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, Railroad Tycoon II, and Heavy Gear II. Kevin also revisited MAME, the Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator, which was the focus of the December 1998 meeting. The MAME distribution itself contains no sample arcade game ROMs, due to copyright restrictions, so you'll have to get those from other sources (provided, of course, you're licensed to do so). A Google search for arcade roms will likely point out several of the major sites.

January 9, 2001: Network Load Tuning on a UNIX Server

You've just set up a publicly accessible FTP and/or Web server on a UNIX box, and now have a hot commodity that people on the 'Net will want to access. How do you keep the load from killing your poor little server? Are you ready for the "Slashdot Effect" (or the "Red Hat Effect" in our case)?

This month, Gilbert Detillieux took us through some of the load and usage monitoring utilities that are available for UNIX, such as MRTG (available locally), and The Webalizer, and showed some of the usage stats produced by these programs. He then described some of the parameters that can be used in various server programs to limit access and throughput. The focus was on settable ftpaccess parameters in WU-FTPD, such as class and limit parameters, and also a couple useful patches, to fix the throughput feature, and to implement a host-limit feature. The presentation concluded with a quick mention of some more general solutions, such as the Linux kernel traffic shaper utility, shapecfg, and Class Based Queuing (CBQ).

February 13, 2001: Locking Down Linux

This month, MUUG member Shawn Wallbridge returned with a follow-up to the November meeting topic. The many benefits to using Linux also make it a prime target for attacks. The power of Linux also increases its usefulness to crackers/hackers.

This presentation covered various tools and methods to secure your Linux machine. Some tools covered were the Bastille hardening script, Psionic's PortSentry and Logcheck, Snort Intrusion Detection, and Tripwire Integrity Check. Shawn took a basic installation and locked it down to limit the risk of a remote exploit.

Security web sites mentioned included Linux Security (a general Linux security site), Security Focus, Security Portal, and BugTraq. Linux HowTo's that are useful references include IPChains, IP Masquerade, Firewall, and Security. Whitepapers such as Armouring Linux are also useful. Books recommended include Linux System Security (Scott Mann, Prentice Hall, 0130158070), Building Linux and OpenBSD Firewalls (Wes Sonnenreich, Tom Yates, John Wiley & Sons, 0471353663), Real World Linux Security (Bob Toxen, Prentice Hall, 0130281875), and SSH The Secure Shell The Definitive Guide (Daniel Barrett, O'Reilly, 0596000111).

March 13, 2001: Usenet News Readers

This month, MUUG member Chris Hill gave us a look at Usenet. The session covered a brief history of the Usenet and news groups, how to get a new news group assigned in the hierarchy (both for regular and alt groups), how to use news readers such as Pine, Pan, and Netscape, what uuencode is, what the binaries news groups are, and the meanings of the hierarchies.

We also got a brief talk, arranged on very short notice, from Jim Elliott, Linux Product Manager for Enterprise Servers, IBM Americas Group. Jim talked about IBM's Linux strategy, particularly in regard to Linux running on S/390 mainframes. Think of thousands of copies of Linux running under VM on one mainframe! Jim's funny, irreverent presentation style resulted in a lot of laughs, some interesting insights into the industry, and a look at some cool toys IBM is working on. Jim also mentioned that much interesting software and information is freely available at the IBM developerWorks web site. Notes for a longer version of Jim's presentation, and many others, can be found on Jim's home page.

April 10, 2001: Netfilter and the Linux 2.4 Kernel

This month, Sean Walberg was our guest presenter. The presentation was about netfilter, the packet handling facility of the Linux 2.4 kernel. Specifically, the differences between netfilter and ipchains, and using netfilter to do basic packet filtering, masquerading, and other fun stuff. Sean's presentation notes can be found online. Sean is a regular contributor to the Linux Newsletter.

May 8, 2001: Cable Modems

This month, Ron Dallmeier of Shaw-West (formerly Videon) talked about cable modems, cable modem standards, and the Videon high-speed Internet infrastructure. This was a fairly technical presentation, which focussed mainly on DOCSIS cable modems, and their protocol standards. The presentation also debunked a lot of the misinformation about cable modems, particularly regarding the issues of security and shared bandwidth. The presentation concluded with a quick description of some of the server infrastructure that is currently provided on the west side of Winnipeg, including DHCP, DNS, SMTP, HTTP, FTP, and other servers, many of which are server farms with a Virtual IP (VIP) front-end system, for load balancing.

June 12, 2001: The Return of BSD

In the open source world, the word Linux is almost synonymous with Operating System. As of April 1999, 31.3% of the world's network-connected machines run Linux. Comparatively, 14.6% run BSD UNIX. Some of the world's largest web operations, such as Yahoo!, run BSD. The world's busiest FTP server,, uses BSD to transfer 1.4 TB of data per day. Even Microsoft's flagship Hotmail service used to run BSD. So what's the secret? Why isn't BSD more well known?

This month, Roberto Urrea, Senior UNIX/NT Administrator with the University of Winnipeg's Technology Solutions Centre, talked about FreeBSD, about how it differs from Linux, and about running Linux programs on FreeBSD. FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD all include options to allow Linux binaries to run on these systems (at least for the Intel x86 architecture).

Please note: For this month only, we held the meeting at the University of Winnipeg's Duckworth Centre, which is located on Spence Street, across from the rest of the U of W campus, between Portage Ave. and Ellice Ave. The meeting was in room 3D03, on the 3rd floor of the Duckworth Centre, which should be easy to find from the Spence Street entrance. This campus map should help you find the way. Security personnel at the front of the main building at the U of W campus (Portage Avenue entrance) will be provided with information about this meeting, so you can always check with them if you're lost. There should be no parking problems after 5:30 PM.

Please stay tuned for updates as to our meeting location when we resume our monthly meetings in September.

Also, don't forget about our MUUG t-shirt promotion, being coordinated by Shawn Wallbridge. If you're interested in a shirt, or in submitting a design suggestion, now's the time to respond.

July 2001: No meeting this month

August 2001: No meeting this month

* Go to the MUUG Home Page.